I ditched my deodorant...

...to lower risk of breast cancer

By cancer specialist 
Philippa Darbre

MOST women have been using make-up and deodorant for years without a second thought. But new research might make you think twice.

Parabens, a chemical used in cosmetics, toiletries and some food products to prolong shelf-life, has been found in tumours taken from breast cancer patients.

Dr Philippa Darbre, reader in oncology at the University of Reading, has spent years studying parabens and how they get into the body. She says: "Parabens can mimic the action of oestrogen and there is a link between oestrogen and breast cancer." Specialist ... Philippa Darbre

Here, she tells LYNSEY HAYWOOD why she stopped using deodorant 15 years ago. THE rise in breast cancer has turned it into the most common cancer in women.

Most studies conclude the majority of cases are environmental in origin — but the main underlying environmental cause remains to be identified.

Smoking, diet, alcohol and radiation have all been identified as risk factors but lifetime exposure to oestrogen is regarded as one of the biggest influences.

There are lots of environmental chemical compounds that mimic the action of oestrogen and as these have been found in the breast, there have been questions about their involvement in the rising incidence of breast cancer.

One of these chemicals is parabens. When I first looked into this issue I was concerned about them being applied to the underarm and breast area because from there, they might be absorbed through the skin into underlying areas of the breast. This also concerned me because more than half of breast cancers start in that same region of the breast.

In the new study I was involved in — published last week — we found parabens in the breast tissue of every woman examined and we did indeed find a bit more of one type of paraben, propylparaben, in the underarm region than inner regions of the breast.

But what this new study also found is that women who hadn't ever used underarm deodorant for years still had parabens in the samples from their breast tissue. This means that the parabens are getting into the body from elsewhere.

Hundreds of everyday products contain parabens — make-up, toothpaste, moisturisers, bubble bath...

I will always be a bit ambivalent about hounding a single chemical. I did not open up my bathroom cabinet and consciously throw out anything that contained parabens.

Even if they were removed from all products, I suspect that women would still get breast cancer. Alone, this wouldn't solve the problem.

There are lots of different chemicals in all of these products and by them being used every day, they find their way into our bodies.

I stopped using underarm cosmetics about 15 years ago and I haven't looked back since. I use very few personal care products anyway. I tend to use soap and water to wash under my arms and try to choose products from more organic, cosmetic producers.

What we couldn't identify in the study is where the parabens were coming from. We did not ask women which other products they used.

Lots more research is needed to establish how these chemicals get into our bodies and what they do once they get there. Many of the chemical constituents have been found in rivers, fish and water mammals and there is little doubt they are also entering human tissues.

The human breast becomes a sink for these compounds because it contains a lot of fat and these chemicals like to lodge in the fat.

There is no proven causal link between personal care products and the development of breast cancer but it definitely needs further investigation.

The good news is that if we CAN establish a link, prevention could finally become a reality.

All we have to do is stop using them.

Go to The Paraben Free Beauty Expert website at parabenfreeexpert.blogspot.com

www.thesun.co.uk - The Sun - 19.01.2012

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